CEiMB: Chocolate Cherry Almond Biscotti

Another not-great cookie recipe from Ellie.

I like Biscotti, and I’ve now baked it successfully using Dorie Greenspan’s recipe.  But Ellie’s chocolate-sherry-almond-orange creations left me highly unsatisfied.

Cherry Biscotti

Here’s the problem: too much stuff!  The whole wheat flour added a certain depth in it’s own right, so then mucking it up with dark chocolate, tart cherries, orange zest AND nuts was just a little much for me (but others may like it – you’ll find the recipe here).  Of these flavors, I found the orange overpowering and not good for dunking these cookies in coffee.

To top it all off, the cookies were a mess to slice!  The outside baked WAY faster than the inside, and so while I was slicing it the inside was sticking to the knife while the outside was chipping off large chunks. I sliced them pretty thick to make the best of it, but they were still pretty ugly at the end: the inside was more dense and darker colored than the crusty rims (even after the third stage of baking) and the rims were all jagged.  I didn’t care to put them in many of my holiday dessert trays.

And so it is that I am withdrawing from CEiMB. I’ve enjoyed the challenges and the interaction with other blogging cooks, but I’ve disliked too many of the recipes to continue with this experiment.  Good luck to all of the other home cooks who will reap the health benefits of Ellie’s creations.

CEiMB: Triple Chocolate Cookies

Maybe my Tuesdays with Dorie experience has spoiled me, but I’m just not that into Ellie’s Triple Chocolate Cookies.

TRiple Chocolate

The cookies came out kinda flat and the crackled a little around the edges (even on my silpat), so they weren’t especially cute by themselves.  But they added a lot of color to the cookie basket I brought to my uncle’s home on Christmas day, and that can’t be undervalued. The basket also had blondies for the kids, eggnog bread, and some of Dorie‘s buttery jam cookies made with cherry jam and pumpkin pie spices. A separate box had mock turtles (pretzels topped with a melted Rollo candy and half a pecan) so that the nut oils couldn’t contaminate anything else that might otherwise be enjoyed by one allergic guest.

It’s not secret that I’m not a huge fan of overly chocolate stuff, but I thought the cookies had potential.  I wasn’t thrilled with them, but the kids were!  They were gone before we all got up from the table!  Points to Ellie for getting the kids to eat whole wheat flour after a H-U-G-E Italian dinner of stuffed shells, meatballs and sausage.

You can find the cookie recipe at The Feast Within, including the blogger’s improvements to make less flat cookies. Her photos highlight her beautiful cookies and successful modifications.

CEiMB: Curried Squash Soup

I’ve never been a fan of squash (I’m not sure exactly what it tastes like, but I’ve never found it enjoyable, however it’s been disguised) but I had high hopes for this soup. I thought the combination of curry and honey would help me choke it down.

Now, I recognize that I had the same high hopes for the squash mac ‘n cheese that Ellie gave us a few weeks ago, and I was sadly disappointed, but I’m trying to eat more vegetables of different colors, and so I tried the soup.


Meet me in the Kitchen made this week’s selection, and you can find the recipe at her blog.  Some of the comments suggested that the curry made the soup too spicy or that the honey made it too sweet, but I don’t necessarily agree with either reaction.

I added apple chicken sausage and oyster crackers to disguise the  stuff, and still it was squash soup.  I liked it, but I’ll never crave it. I might make it again when I am swept by a wave of health consciousness, but I’m not gonna hold my breath for that day to come.

It looked nice in the bowl, though, don’t you think?  And the Other Eater in my Household enjoyed it very much.

I think next week may be the final test for Ellie’s book. None of the recipes have really bowled me over so far, and I’m beginning to lose interest in the book.  We’ll see how the cookies recipes stand up.

CEiMB: Cornmeal-Crusted Roasted Ratatouille Tart

I appreciate Ellie’s efforts, but I still don’t like eggplant.

This week the bloggers who crave Ellie in their Bellies worked on a roasted vegetable tart, built in a cornmeal and wheat flour crust. You’ll find the recipe here.  The combination of eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes, all roasted before being slathered with cheese and herbs and baked, really appealed to me. But the execution fell short. It’s still a bunch of winter vegetables that I really don’t care for. (But I ate it with a glass of this Michigan wine, which makes everything go down more smoothly.)

All I tasted was eggplant

I shopped for this kind of on the spur of the moment – thus, without a list – and did pretty well. But I was baking in my pajamas early Sunday morning when I realized that I had forgotten the mozzarella.  I had two choices: get dressed and run to the store, or punt.

Refusing the change out of my pajamas that early in the day, I rescued some leftover ricotta from the back of my fridge. It worked like a charm!  It won’t melt and spread, though, so use your finger and a spoon to make tiny little drops of choose to dot each layer of the tart.  It’s super creamy when you bite into it, like lasagna, and makes the tart’s texture great.

I would be proud to carry this dish into someone else’s home, but I fear that the leftovers will sit in the back of my fridge for a while before we throw it down the garbage disposal.

CEiMB: Macaroni and Four Cheeses

This week marks my entrance into Craving Ellie in my Belly – a new cooking experiment that a lot of the TWD bakers convinced me was a good idea. Ellie Kreiger’s cookbook aims to counteract the damage we all do baking with butter, eggs and white flour on Tuesdays.  Seemed like a good idea at the time.

My first try was the Macaroni and Four Cheese recipe, which was chosen by Supplicious (she’ll post the recipe before Nov. 30).  A word of warning: the orange hue that reminds us of the Blue Box actually comes from 20 oz. of pureed squash in Ellie’s version. Take that for what it’s worth.

Mac and Squash and Cheese

The four cheese are ricotta, cheddar, Monterey jack and Parmesan, but in small enough quantities that I really felt like I had reheated the Pumpkin Pasta I’d made last week. I enjoyed both, I guess, but I was really looking forward to something comforting and cheesy for the cold nights before Thanksgiving. This was more of a vegetable dish.  I think I would have liked it better if I had spent a long day at work anticipating a vegetable dinner and not a cheese-laden dinner.  Ho hum.

Now, the comforting part of this dish is that it reheats well and is an excellent source of calcium, folate (to regulate sleep, appetite and mood), manganese (for digesting carbs), niacin (to draw energy from carbs), protein, selenium (to protect against heart disease and cancer), thiamin (for lots of stuff) and vitamin A (for better vision, teeth, bones and skin). It’s also a good source of fiber, iron, phosphorus (to draw energy from food) and riboflavin (to benefit red blood cells and draw energy from carbs). Finally, I can eat 2 cups for less than 400 calories.  (Ellie lists all the nutritional in each recipe, which I love.) Good stuff all around, none of which applies to the Blue Box.